Ivory Coast rebel troops end mutiny

Bouaké: Rebel soldiers in Ivory Coast on Tuesday agreed to end a four-day mutiny which drew in troops from across the country after reaching agreement with the government over a wages dispute.
“Calm has returned,” said Defence Minister Alain-Richard Donwahi. “The situation is returning to normal in all the military regions.”
News of the deal was confirmed by a spokesman for the disgruntled troops, who said their financial demands had been met, ending a dispute which began in January.
“We have found a basis for agreement. We are returning to barracks,” Sergeant Cisse Fousseni said after a round of unrest that began early on Friday.
The defence minister said banks had reopened and that civil servants could return to work and businesses resume normal activity.
The mutiny, which sowed disruption across the world’s top cocoa-producing nation, saw soldiers shooting angrily into the air and heavy gunfire in Ivory Coast’s two biggest cities, Abidjan and Bouake, in which one person died.
There was heavy gunfire on Monday at the country’s largest military barracks in Abidjan, the economic capital, as well as in Gallieni camp in the city centre where banks, offices and department stores were closed.
Troops also seized control of Bouake, the country’s second city, where sustained gunfire rang out. Border posts were closed, halting traffic to neighbouring Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. But the tensions eased considerably after news of the deal broke.
“We’re happy, we haven’t slept for five days,” said rebel spokesman Serjeant Sidick.
“Even we don’t want any more mutinies. It stops here. But we didn’t have any other way to make ourselves heard.”
On the streets of Bouake, troops left the southern entrance of the city which they had taken over, handing back control of the spiked roadblock to the police.
And life started to resume its normal pace, with most shops open and the main streets, which had been deserted over the past four days, filling up with shoppers.
The mutiny was the latest in a series of armed protests which began in January in the West African country, with troops angered by a wage dispute with President Alassane Ouattara’s government.
That uprising ended when the government agreed to pay the soldiers bonuses of 12 million CFA francs (18,000 euros) each.
At the time, they were given a partial payment of 5.0 million francs with the remainder due to be paid this month. But the last payment never materialised, prompting the latest round of unrest.
According to sources among the rebel soldiers, the government has now agreed to give them an immediate payment of 5.0 million CFA francs with the remaining 2.0 million to be paid next month. — AFP